Don’t bury heads in the sand

Gold Mafia

As Zimbabweans were still grappling for answers after earth shattering revelations by an international broadcaster about massive gold smuggling and money laundering activities in the country, new evidence emerged of more potential top level corruption last week.

Qatar-based Al Jazeera, through a four part-documentary that was aired between March and early this month titled Gold Mafia, recorded some politically exposed people detailing how they abuse state institutions as part of a criminal enterprise.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ambassador-at-large Uebert Angel was recorded by undercover journalists promising to help them launder US$1,2 billion in dirty money through gold smuggling.

Angel, who said he was working with the first family in his criminal enterprise, later claimed through his lawyer Lovemore Madhuku that he only played along in his conversations with the journalists that introduced themselves as criminals as part of an intelligence operation.

The government’s initial reaction to the scandal was disjointed with some officials choosing to peddle conspiracies until Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa issued a statement promising credible investigations into the allegations.

Zimbabweans were still waiting for evidence of the investigations into the Golf Mafia scandal when The Sentry, which describes itself as an investigative and policy organisation that seeks to disable multinational predatory networks that benefit from violent conflict, repression and kleptocracy, set the cat among the pigeons.

In a report titled: Spincash Machine that was released on Friday, The Sentry said it had established through a trove of leaked documents that controversial businessman Zunaid Moti had made multimillion dollar payments to Zimbabwean politicians around 2017.

Moti runs the African Chrome Fields (ACF), which has extensive interests in Zimbabwe’s mining industry.

There were claims that President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy, Constantino Chiwenga or their allies and relatives allegedly received US$3 million from Moti at a time the coup against former ruler Robert Mugabe was underway.

The report by The Sentry added to growing allegations of state capture in Zimbabwe by unscrupulous business interests and has striking similarities with the Al Jazeera revelations.

Instead of government officials rushing to dismiss the allegations with some conspiracy theories, there is need for serious introspection by those in charge of the country.

These developments call for an urgent independent investigation that will shed light into what has been happening behind the curtains since the new administration took over about five years ago.

Zimbabwe has to confront the issues that have been unravelled by the investigations and this is not the time for people to be hiding their heads in the sand like ostriches.

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